What is the bridge between the spiritual and the material? Can they coexist?
Material and Spiritual Bond
¡@¡@The connection between the material and the spiritual follows the same principle as the connection of body and mind. Take for example, a cup. A cup is an object, and has little to do with our spirit in the first place. As I hold it, and use it, use it when I read, when I listen to music, when I have an important conversation with some one some day, when I’m happy, when I’m sad, then slowly I begin to feel my lifein it. At this point the cup and my spirit, my soul, and my essence have connected. This is the bridging of man and material.
Union of Mind and Matter
¡@¡@The same applies to the unification of body and mind/heart. When the body and the mind/heart are one, then the spiritual can be one with the physical. If the spirit is one with the physical, then we can be one with the universe and nature. If we are one with the universe, then we are using our full potential to connect with all forces and beings that surround. The meaning of fullest potential here means that it doesn’t matter if we do or do not have a connection with everything, because the two opposing states are the same. They exist because of one another.
¡@¡@Without a body there is no life, but with one there is the mind/heart, then there is life. When I have a body, a heart, a life, then all connections in life form a spectrum, ranging from connections with non-spiritual material to connections with other spiritual consciousness’, and the different connections crowd together and collide with each other, making it impossible to differentiate them. At this point of understanding we can try to better comprehend the practice of not dissecting, delineating, or ostracizing things from oneanother.
Separation of Mind and Matter
¡@¡@In the Chinese school of thought, the focus is on the unification of subject matter, whereas the in West the focus is on separation. Western thinkers delineate mind and body, man and matter very clearly. This is because the tradition of thinking in the West is logical, with its roots in mathematics. Under this light, the cosmos is seen as a very logical, and mechanical structure, and when used for calculations and the physical sciences it works. However, when discussing the most basic of human struggles it becomes obviously insufficient.
¡@¡@In the majority of the Western classics, when addressing humanity and the human spirit, the emphasis falls on the juxtaposition of man through god. Only then, through the relationship with a higher power can the human spirit flourish and become elevated. Thus humans needed ways to communicate with God, Allah, and Buddha. The individual needed a medium, through which they could communicate to god, and so with this need, theologians, missionaries, and the clergy were created. These people would refine and devote themselves wholly, and could reach a very high level of spiritual understanding. Since in the past, life was simpler, and missionaries could preach and meditate properly with fewer distractions. Their devotees were able to fully commit to their studies, reaching quite high levels of understanding themselves.
Separation of One from All
¡@¡@Almost all of the acclaimed missionaries and prophets, such as Jesus Christ, Mohammad, and Sakyamuni Buddha, were known to have super natural abilities. They could heal the sick and help people surpass the pains and struggles they were tormented by, and for this they were revered and all amassed a large following very easily.
¡@¡@Because the quality of material life was much lower in the past, life was far more difficult. It was not uncommon, and indeed somewhat necessary, for people to lean towards and rely on the strength of religion just to survive. However, as we approached modernity, the West continually adopted and converted Chinese sciences and technologies, which were given out most freely during the Sung dynasty. Having taken the technological advances provided, the West developed them further, and took them deeper into the rabbit hole. Finding reassurance and promise in the qualities of materialism, humans have converted to the religion of the Neon God, using their iPhones, and iPads as the centers of their lives. Slowly but surely the culture of spiritualism vanishes.
God is Dead
¡@¡@In the past there were no computers, so people walkedto their places of worship, and prayed devoutly. However, once we had computers, especially handheld ones like smartphones, all that is needed is the slight flick of a finger, and anything can be found, seen, and heard. Needless to say, fewer people are willing to find answers in worship now.
¡@¡@Once we planted our heads into our palms, seeking our personal means to satisfying our basest needs and desires from the virtual, materialistic world, not only didGod die, but so have our spirits and hearts as well. The virtual realism in our computers keeps us limited to experiencing only from our senses, and from the world of material. No matter what the need, found in the smoke and mirrors, flashes and bangs in movies, or music, or even the practice of replicating senses, of commoditized love. These are all cheap stimulations to our senses and desires, unstable and useless things that excite us and leave us wanting more. The Internet is littered with them, and for the majority of the population who do not have the sufficient wisdom, or even self-control, they become lost within it, and then, all hell breaks loose.
Departure From Sincerity
¡@¡@When Bill Gate’s Microsoft, and Steve Job’s Apple took the material civilization to a golden age of technology, humans became more egotistical. Forty years earlier, before the publication of Microsoft Windows, astronauts went to the moon to discover the mysteries and secrets of the cosmos. Their attitudes were serious, and earnest, full of reverence, humility, and devotion, but today it is not the same. Today’s astrophysicists and astronauts only want to conquer the universe, which is a great shift from the original attitude. Modern humans are far more self-important that before. Although some would argue that in the past, Humans felt small and inferior because of their ignorance. Yet, the two are not so directly correlated, because only when we feel small and inferior can we truly attain the highest levels of open mindedness, modesty, and humility. Then, and only then, is when wisdom possible to attain.
Hearts of Presentation
¡@¡@With the great developments in materialism, people have little need for open mindedness and humility. Instead, people chose to take on slogans, proudly following world leaders like Barack Obama with his, “Yes We Can,” chanting, but can you really? No, because we as human beings have limitations in the world we live in, it’s not a matter of having the right tools for the job, and not everything can be solved with superior firepower. Rather, it is in howyou communicate, and in whether or not you can help other people shed their prejudices, whether or not you can shed your own pride and to reclaim your true, good nature. Many things can be resolved by removing one’s own stubbornness, but that is not the attitude presented by Obama. How does this help express the modern American culture? Poorly.
At One with the Universe
¡@¡@Why did the ancient Chinese put so much emphasis on the “Being One with the Universe?” To be one with the universe means to be one with everything, like ZhuangZe’s concept of spiritual transformation to reach a state of equality of all things. In ZhuangZe’s butterfly dream, he became lost within two realities, was ZhuangZe dreaming he was the Butterfly, or was the Butterfly dreaming it wasZhuangZe? The answer to the question is not as important, as the phenomenon of achieving equality of, and through, the spirit, where one finds all things to be equal and the same. Once this is understood people become less bias. If there is a bias, however, then the consciousness cannot find real freedom in peace, and there cannot be true balance. That is how people become truly ignorant.¡@ Instead the choices we make from our biases are deceptions we to deceive ourselves andto deceive each other. When we tend to think of ourselves as proper and noble, we naturally tend to look down on others.¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@ ¡@¡@In the past two hundred years political entities around the world have been seeking different ways of achieving equality through government. Through the practice of equality before law, human rights, and the packaging brand of Freedom, we produced Democracy in the hopes of creating fairness. Yet, along the way all we have seen is more inequality. Wall Street was occupied because the people discovered that they were the hopeless 99% and the 1% alone owned almost 40% of the entire countries’ wealth, where is the fairness in that? Communism also sought equality, but when some people are moreequal thanothers, it becomes only a matter of time before the civilians turn restless and overthrow the nation. Both systems that tried to attain fairness and equality eventually found failure waiting for them.
Soundness of Self for the Creation of A Life
¡@¡@We have the need forequalitybecause we are all full of prejudice. If we did not have prejudices then what would we be seeking equality for? Search for the balance of your Self instead. Find the soundness in your Self and create your life, so that you can help carry part of the world’s burdens.That is far more important than seeking outEquality. Confucius and Mencius focused so much on Benevolence and Righteousness because it is through these concepts that we can learn how to be Human.
¡@¡@Through these central pillars of Confucianism we can enrich our lives and of those around us. It starts with knowing how and when to cease, ceasing your thoughts and impulses and entering a state of Stability. Through the stability we can achieve Calmness, through calmness we find Peace, only when at peace can we actually process and Ponder on our experiences,and through pondering we Attainwisdom. Through the system of Stability, Calmness, Peace, Pondering, and Attaining, and through the practice of Chi and Kung Fu, we enter a high level frequency of stability.
¡@¡@When the life forces begin to generate internal energy, it is like Mencius’quote, “We nurture our internal forces to become Chi; they are good forces, they strengthen us and connect us to the world and Universe. They also protect us from the disturbances in life, and help correct the disturbances we encounter.” These forces expanding outwardly can become goodness beyond the farthest oceans, when compressed and practiced inwardly are for honoring, building, and strengtheningfamilies and homes. With some nurturing and a lot ofdiscipline, any situation can be faced, manage, and resolved. When the forces of unification with the universe are reached, anything around us can begin to exchange life forces with us, and it gives us only positive reinforcement and more strength through our own stability.
A Heart of Hearts
¡@¡@When a cup is shattered, it’s just a shattered cup, not many tend to really worry. If, however, an antique is broken, hearts often break with it. The difference between the two is the sense of Value. Does, however, a drinking glass and an antique really have that big of a difference? If seen from the nature of both objects, they’re just lifeless material, despite the fact that maybe a King used oneof the two once, the antique is still just an object.
¡@¡@When we are truly able to not give the antique more importance, we slowly begin to understand ZhuangZe’s philosophy of transforming ourselves into the state of universal equality. An antique may be hundred or thousands of years old, and it may have a very high appraisal value from dealerships. It might be a famous work of art, and might be terribly expensive, as rare as precious jewels and diamonds, but no matter the price, or the level of antiquity, the true worth and value comes from what it has in relationship to me. How much of my life is in it as its life in mine? If we go back to the basic value of life, just how long are we on this earth? At most a hundred and then some years, so why do we force ourselves to suffer by chasing after things that we did not have when we came here, and cannot possibly take with us when we leave? We too often cherish the things that do not need our love, and neglect the things that actually mean something to our lives.
One is in All Things
¡@¡@Mind, heart, and body, mind, heart, and object, body and object, they were all in one the same. The sunrise on Mount Emeimay be a unique and beautiful sight, but so is the sunset on the DanshuiRiver. However, when we dissect the differences in location and meaning,we begin to think too much and miss the important message of beauty from it all. The sunrise on Emei Mountain is a famous sight in its scenic beauty and wonderful array of life forces. It can induce our hearts and minds to open wide. The sunset, a symbol of the end and death, over a generic river in the northern part of Taiwan, can suggest something entirely different,and the heart follows as it sinks, and the beauty is lost. A famous Neo-Confucian Cheng Hao in a poem of his once said that, “All things come to fruition and connect naturally, it comes in the calmness of peace, / if we comprehend the differences in the seasons, so should we see the differences in beauty.”
¡@¡@If we can see the world as a unified whole, and see things without prejudice, then no matter the sunrise, or the sunset, they both have equal importance, equal beauty. One represents the Yang, and the other the yin, nothing of good or bad, better or lesser, right or wrong. There is no such thing as someone more beautiful than someone else, and there is no one better than anyone else, as these conditions are not real. If all things are seen equally from their own nature, then all is beautiful, and all is for the good of the world.
¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@Different, but United
¡@¡@Today in our world of Fairness, and Equality, all things fall under the same critical standard, and who is the one making that standard? America? Is that fair? Of course not, every nation has their own peoples, and their own cultures, and unique geography, that’s what makes the world vibrant and alive. Even if one day we travel to every place in the world, and all the architecture looks identical, and all the people are injected into the same system, wearing the same brands, using the same phones, even then there will still be people rioting and protesting in the streets. There will be the same nature of prejudice, the same modern aristocracy with very little grace in individual self-sufficiency. What will remain will only be hearts and minds filled with bias, with the same knee-jerk reflexes we have today. Although the surface will show a more unified front, but the innards of everything and everyone will be coldblooded, and in a world of this icy nature it can only become darker and more heartless. ¡@¡@However, if we take to heart what the Chinese ancients meant by the spirit of “not the same, but one in the same,” then we would not need to face this kind of a world. Instead we could face the world with bigger hearts and with wisdom, for the rest of the world.
Chi Kung Culture Society of TAIPEI